How it all started
I was wondering what I should post here in my Portrait Photography page and realized that I have never reflected on how I got into cameras and picture taking. I must have been around 8 or 10 years old (don't really remember) when my parents gave me my first camera. It must have been one of those Kodak 126 film Instamatics or one of the even simpler 110 format cameras.
I would run around taking pictures of our dog, a rock, the beach, my toy cars... anything I could think of. I doubt there was any artistic motive behind it. I just wanted to take a picture to freeze the scene in black and white, and feel like a cool kid with my camera. When I got older, I inherited my dad's Canon AE-1, and unlike my first camera, this was a complex state of the art machine (at the time) where you really had to know what you were doing in order to use it. Everything (focus, aperture, shutter speed, zoom, ISO/ASA, film advance, etc.) was manual. No automation at all.
The thing that made the most difference was being forced to actually create the photo by deciding all the settings in the camera for each shot (a characteristic of old film SLRs). With that camera, and what my dad taught me, I began to understand how photography and cameras worked. Before I knew it, I was actually taking pictures that I really liked (like the ones in this post, which are scans of very old prints from over 20 years ago).
Fast forward many years later, I got some semi-pro digital gear but still kept it as a hobby. I was taking pictures of events, places my wife and I visited, portraits of friends... I even got several of my images used in magazines, newspapers, and online. Some even made it to a small photo gallery.
Now I'm on my fourth digital pro-level camera, and one day some friends called me asking for family portraits and would not take the "I'll do it for free because you're my friend" price. They wanted to pay me because they thought I was worth it. I realized that I could indeed turn this into a side business. Something I had never done before, probably because I was too scared to put myself out there, or I hadn't realized that my work and the time I put into it truly of value, or worse, just assumed that nobody would be willing to ask for pictures and actually pay for them because there are so many other photographers out there.
Now this side business is starting simply through referrals and my wife's unconditional support. People are very happy with my work and they are recommending me when someone else wants portraits. Don't get me wrong, I have no intention of leaving my day job. I like what I do as a consultant and I'm good at it, but if I can make some money during my time off and have my professional gear pay for itself, then that's good enough for me.
So, if you think you have the talent, don't be afraid and just do it! It will be slow at first, but it's very rewarding. I guarantee it.
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